For those of us still creating youth media, the 10 years the U.S. spent in Iraq has lasted for a huge chunk of our lives. We’ve all been affected, one way or another, by the political decisions of the Bush years, and the lasting impression on the Obama administration. It’s hard for people our age to cover these issues — not just because we can’t hop on a flight to Baghdad, grab a fixer, and stick a microphone in someone’s face, but because it’s just hard to cover war in the first place. Part of our job is to identify conflict and present both sides, but things get much more complicated on a geopolitical scale, and without much prior experience. But it’s still important that youth producers give it a try — and that’s what WNR does in this piece.
It’s difficult to commemorate an anniversary like this and try to cover a decade in half an hour. 10 years is a long time, and a lot has happened in the US, Iraq, and the Middle East since 2003. Regardless, WNR managed to revisit a variety of issues in their broadcast, with lots of voices that many of us wouldn’t otherwise hear – doctors, humanitarian workers, and Iraqis. The most compelling portions of the piece were the reports of human rights abuses, and the stories of the doctors — it’s always interesting to hear from people with boots on the ground, and how the rest of the world reacted to their experiences.
Though the classic “I told you so,” does less good today in the case of the humanitarian crisis, the fact that a generation of reporters are aware of these canary in the coal mine situations is extremely valuable for future international reporting. What kinds of things are we hearing out of Syria? Egypt? Afghanistan and Iraq? I’m sure this reporting experience not only gave War News Radio some good lessons in finding sources and working through the tough spots, but also gave them a passion for issues-based reporting on an international scale. I have no doubt that given more resources, this team could very easily produce some of the most unique and much-needed reporting that others in our generation can connect to. They’ve already opened my eyes to a handful of stories I wasn’t hearing from a decade of reporting, and I’d like to hear more. It’s been 10 years, but this isn’t the last thing we’re going to hear out of Iraq.